How to spot fake links or phishing links.

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  • Posted by: Evans Asare
How to spot fake links or phishing links.

How to spot fake links or phishing links.

Phishing links are malicious and deceptive attempts to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details, or personal information. They normally pose as a trustworthy entity to attack their victims. It can be done through various means, such as emails, instant messages, phone calls, or fraudulent websites. They embed a malicious code in links, so when you click on that link, they get your details.

Here are some things you should look out of when a suspicious link is sent to you:

1. Check the URL validity and also for spelling mistakes:

The first step in identifying a phishing attack is to hover your mouse over the URL and check the validity of the domain name. You should look for a padlock icon in the address bar and check that the URL begins with a ‘https://’ or ‘http://’. The ‘S’ indicates the web address has been encrypted and secured with an SSL certificate. Without HTTPS, any data passed on the site is insecure and could be intercepted by cybercriminal third parties.

Also, you should also pay close attention to the spelling of a web address. To trick users into thinking they are on an official site, the fraudsters will stick as closely as they can to the real address and make small changes to the spelling. A web address that ends in a .co.gh might be changed to a .org, or the letter O could be substituted with the number 0. Ex: www.yah00.org. The web address may also contain extra characters and symbols which official addresses will not contain.

2. Assess the content within a site.

A lot of hard work and thought will go into crafting an official website. The graphics will be sharp, the spelling and grammar will be on point, and the whole experience will feel polished. If you’re on a phishing website, despite the similarity of the branding, the whole experience will feel sub-standard and may indicate that you’ve strayed onto a phishing site.

Simple spelling mistakes, broken English, grammatical errors, or low-resolution images should act as a red flag that you are on a phishing site and should leave immediately.

Another area of the website that may indicate a phishing attack is the lack of a “contact us” section. Official websites will usually have a page dedicated to providing full contact details for their company. This would include, postal address, phone number, email address, and social media channels. If none of these details are provided, this is an indication of a phishing site.

3. Read reviews

It’s always worth doing a bit of research on a company to check if they are reputable and they are who they say they are. There’s a good chance that if a site has defrauded people in the past, victims will go online to share their experience and warn other users to avoid the phishing site. If there are lots of negative customer reviews, it’s a good indication that it is a phishing attack.

4. Verify with Official Sources

If you receive a suspicious email or message, independently verify its legitimacy by contacting the organization directly through their official website or customer service channels. Do not use the contact information provided in the suspicious message itself.

5. Examine the Email or Message

Phishing links are often distributed through emails, text messages, or social media. Be cautious if the email or message contains generic greetings, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or an urgent tone. Legitimate organizations usually address you by name and maintain professional communication.

1. Use a Phishing scanner.

You can use a phishing link scanner to scan urls for safety measures. Platform like VirusTotal is a great tool for detecting phishing links.

Don’t download or click on any button from links sent to you from an unknown person. You could be downloading malware and viruses to your devices. Also, don’t make payment or put your login details in link sent to you. Hackers can steal your information if you are not lucky. Always make sure to go to the official site of the link sent to you. Also, make sure to scan the link before giving out you details.

3. Use strong passwords

Whether it’s to open your device or log in to an online account, a password is usually the last line of defense between your personal information and a nosy cybercriminal.  To ensure everything is as safe as possible, it’s essential that you use strong password.

4. Keep an eye on your financial statements

Because most phishing attacks are used to gain control of your financial information, it’s key that you keep an eye on your financial statements. If you ever notice any unfamiliar charges or suspicious activity, it could be a sign that your accounts have been compromised by a phishing attack.

No matter where you are on the internet, avoiding suspicious links and attachments is a personal cybersecurity best practice. When it comes to phishing, an unknown link could secretly be malware and could put you and your device at risk. Because of this, never click a link or attachment you’re unsure about.

Author: Evans Asare

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